You’re a photographer! Wait – when did that happen?
Now that you know you want to pick up photography – whether it’s a hobby or a potential source of income – where do you go from here? As someone who was in your shoes only a few short years ago, here are some quick tips that can help point you in the right direction.
1. Figure Out What You Want to Photograph
Starting out with your first camera can be overwhelming! My first real camera purchase only came after I started working for a camera company, and I needed more firsthand experience to help me understand how our user base would use their cameras. I didn’t know what I should try to photograph.
There are so many options: landscapes, macro photography, portraits, food, astrophotography, street photography, and more.
My dog, Barclay, is constantly smiling and sitting like he is posing for a camera – so I started taking photos of him. I loved being able to capture memories with him. I quickly began taking photos of other dogs at the shelter I volunteer at, and then of dogs at multiple shelters. I feel like dogs are the subjects I most connect with on an emotional level from behind my camera.
What are you passionate about? It could be animals, or your children and family members. If you love to hike, maybe landscapes are right for you. If you travel, it might be street photography. And if you’re a foodie – well, you could be a natural fit for food photography!
See more: Featured Topic: Choosing a Niche
2. Figure Out Your Personal Style
Once you know WHAT you want to shoot, you need to think about HOW you want to shoot. Wait – what’s the difference? Go on social media or online galleries, and check out work from other photographers. What speaks to you? Do you gravitate to work with strong bokeh? Specific lighting or editing styles?
My personal style is to shoot wide open with prime lenses, preferably at f1.2. I love strong bokeh in my photos.
3. Learn the Basics
While cameras today can do a lot of the basic work for you, it’s best to learn the basics of photography for yourself sooner rather than later.
Read all of the guides and reviews about your camera. And check YouTube and photo blogs for advice about photo composition. YouTube is also a fantastic place to get help as you start editing your photos.
If you learn it right the first time, you’ll be able to progress your work more quickly and you’ll never have to go and correct bad habits.
4. Don’t Go on a HUGE Shopping Spree
Once you start trying out new gear, it can be difficult not to want to buy one of everything for yourself.
There are specific tools that will help you starting out that you can get inexpensively. One example is a tripod. If you do not have a camera with in-body image stabilization, a tripod will elevate the quality of your photos without breaking the bank.
See if you have a local photography dealer near you. Some dealers have programs where you can rent or borrow lenses – which will allow you to learn what you like, without spending a ton of money for a new lens.
Or, buy the less expensive version of the lens you want. If you end up not loving it, you’ll be glad you didn’t waste your money. And you can always re-sell it!
5. Find Other Photographers
It’s always great to be part of a supportive community! See if you have a local photography group, or find a photography group on social media.
This is a way of getting advice, constructive feedback, and even finding someone to go shooting with!
6. Carry Your Gear With You Everywhere
You never know where you’ll find a good shot! The worst thing is finding something you want to capture forever – only to find that the only photography tool you have with you is your phone.
Even if you don’t have ALL of your gear on you at all times – the more often you shoot, the better you’ll get. And you’ll find yourself shooting more often, and more organically, if not all of your shoots are planned.
7. Challenge Yourself
Once you find your comfort zone, it can be hard to get out of it. But that’s no way to continue your growth as a photographer. Find ways to mix it up.
While most of my work is still dedicated to photographing shelter dogs – and keeping my dog’s Instagram up to date – I’ve branched out into portrait photography sessions as well. But my favorite portrait shoots are always the ones where my subjects bring their pets to be in the photos as well!
8. Have FUN
Remember – you’re not shooting for anyone other than yourself. While you need to test your comfort level and try new things, photography should always be something enjoyable.
When you’re a new photographer, you can also get caught up in posting to social media. Who cares if your favorite new photo didn’t get as many likes as one you posted last week? Don’t lose sight of why you picked up a camera in the first place!
What other advice do you have for new photographers?